Women’s Rights in Djibouti and What the US is Doing to HelpGenerally speaking, many inequalities exist between men and women in Djibouti. Men make up the vast majority of the national workforce. Women have a very low proportion of representation in government compared to men. Historically, the state permitted many forms of unjust treatment for women. In recent years, the Djiboutian government has made many strides in improving the lives of women through legislation, the ratification of international treaties and the cooperation with foreign governmental agencies. In spite of these improvements, quite a bit of work remains in order to assure women’s rights in Djibouti.

Women in the Workforce

Djibouti’s constitution, ratified in 1992, states that all people are equal under the law regardless of sex, language, origin, race or religion. Nevertheless, large gaps exist between men and women which is particularly evident within the workforce. Only 19% of women are employed, compared to 81% of men. According to the Labor Code and Penal Code, all people are protected from discrimination when seeking employment. It is illegal for employers to take into account one’s gender when hiring and is punishable by imprisonment and fines. Furthermore, employers are required to pay men and women equally for equal work.  In spite of these legal protections, labor restrictions still exist for women. For example, women are restricted from working a job that is considered above their strength. This frequently excludes women from jobs that include any manual labor. Thereby, it contributes to 19% employment rate.

Domestic Issues

When it comes to domestic issues, obstacles stand in the way of women having equality within the family. For example, men can request a divorce without the burden of evidence. However, for a woman, she must surrender any financial rights and sometimes even pay her spouse damages. Furthermore, the high illiteracy rate of women in Djibouti (61%) causes women to have minimal access to justice, information regarding their rights and legal assistance. In terms of domestic violence, the penal code only criminalizes violence generally. However, it does not provide specific legal protections from domestic violence. Rape is a violent act and punishable under the law. In spite of this, marital rape remains taboo and is rarely prosecuted.

Gender-based Violence

Gender-based violence (GBV) is another women’s rights issue in Djibouti. The Djibouti federal government has taken many administrative and legal actions to outlaw gender-based violence and reduce its occurrence. The Ministry of Women and Family collaborates with the National Union of Djiboutian Women (UNFD) to combat gender-based violence. This collaboration advocates for better legal protections for women and also provides counseling services to victims of GBV.

One of the greatest obstacles for women in terms of GBV is female genital mutilation and cutting (FGM/C). Many legal instruments are in place that aims at eliminating FGM/C such as Article 333 of the Penal Code and the establishment of the National Committee for the Abandonment of FGM/C. However, FGM/C is still a common practice. As of 2015, an estimated 71% of women and girls were victims of FGM/C. In order to respond to the continued practice of FGM/C, the Ministry of Women and Family released the National Strategy for the Total Abandonment of FGM/C 2018-2022. This plan aims to use radio, television, door-to-door campaigns, school curriculum and high-profile publicity strategies to effectively and quickly eliminate the practice.

How the U.S. Is Helping Djiboutian Women

USAID, through a grant to the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), began a two and a half year program entitled “Women’s Empowerment and Community Strengthening.” This plan aims at empowering impoverished women in suburban and rural areas through skills-strengthening strategies.

This program has three primary goals: to improve the capacities of the Ministry of Women and Family, to bolster women’s income-generating skills and to promote new women’s cooperatives. A relatively small-scale operation, the program plans to provide about 850 women with the skills to engage in small-scale economic activities. Some of the program’s successes include the donation of raw materials and equipment to women creating handicrafts. It also includes providing literacy courses to women in national languages and supporting artisan fairs where women can showcase their crafts.

This program through USAID is certainly a step in the right direction in improving women’s rights in Djibouti and the ability to earn income. However, a larger-scale program would do even more to help. In light of the efforts of the Ministry of Women and Family and the more recent structural and legal protections, the future looks hopeful for Djiboutian women.

Alanna Jaffee

Photo: Flickr

Poverty in Djibouti
The Republic of Djibouti is a small country situated in the Horn of Africa between Eritrea, Somalia and Ethiopia. The nation is home to nearly one million Djiboutians today, and as many as 42% of them are living in poverty.

A Harsh Climate

The region’s harsh dry climate has exacerbated poverty in Djibouti, especially in rural areas where most practice nomadic farming. While one-third of the population tends to livestock, farming only represents 3% of the annual GDP in Djibouti. Unprofitable farming means Djiboutians rely on imports for nearly 90% of their food and are heavily dependent on variable international market prices. Such dependence coupled with insufficient rains, long droughts and high unemployment rates put many farmers at risk of extreme poverty.

The Effects of Poverty in Djibouti

Though poverty rates are declining overall, over 70% of Djiboutians were still living on less than $5.50 a day as of 2017. This number is a result of limited gainful employment opportunities in the country.
Poverty in Djibouti results in malnutrition and food insecurity. According to the World Food Programme, as many as 7.5% of the country’s population was malnourished in 2016. According to the United Nations Center Office for Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), an estimated one-third of the population is chronically food insecure, with 62% of those living in rural areas lacking consistent access to nutritious food and a sufficiently varied diet.

Government Investments in the Fight Against Poverty

The Djiboutian government under President Guelleh has been working to provide relief to its impoverished citizens since 2003. The Guelleh administration passed both “the Strategic Document for Reducing the Poverty (SDRP) in 2003 and the National Initiative for Social Development (NISD) in 2007” to enhance entrepreneurship opportunities for Djiboutians. However, such efforts were unsuccessful in reducing the high unemployment rate and addressing poverty in Djibouti.
Despite the high rates of poverty in Djibouti, the Djiboutian government is cautiously optimistic that it can create jobs and pull its people out of famine. The country’s GDP continues to grow steadily on the back of foreign investments, increasing by nearly 6.8% in 2018. The Republic of Djibouti is of particular interest to China, who is interested in making the country a customs-free zone, harnessing its available natural resources such as salt and energy, and developing tourism services.

 

The Djiboutian government is also investing heavily in developing hydroelectric, port and railway infrastructure in the hopes of lifting its people out of poverty. These investments show that the country is interested in moving toward more of a transport and shipping economy, using its proximity to the Gulf of Aden to assert itself as a crucial trading partner in the Horn of Africa. These efforts to diversify its economy intended to provide new opportunities to Djiboutians to earn living wages, provide food for their families and lift themselves out of poverty.

 

To encourage entrepreneurship and continue to push the fight against poverty in Djibouti, the Guelleh administration also laid out the Vision Djibouti 2035 plan in 2014 and the Accelerated Growth Strategy and Promotion of Employment (SCAPE) in 2015. The long-term strategic framework in Vision Djibouti 2035 intends to push to the country toward emerging status by 2035, while the five-year plan laid out in SCAPE aims to provide relief in the short term. Among its many lofty goals, SCAPE outlines how the government intends to provide financial support to those working in agriculture and livestock, create infrastructure for economic valuation in important growth sectors like tourism and resource mining, speed up job creation to help Djiboutians find gainful employment and reduce extreme poverty in Djibouti by 20%.

 

Djibouti faces significant challenges as it grapples with poverty. However, there is hope. Through fruitful symbiotic partnerships with foreign powers like China and effective strategizing, the government hopes that poverty in Djibouti will be a thing for its history books by 2035.

Riddhi Bhattacharya
Photo: Flickr

Healthcare In DjiboutiDjibouti is a coastal country located in the horn of Africa. In 2017, the country’s population was 1.1 million. However, despite the issues the country faces, there have also been recent major achievements of Healthcare in Djibouti.

Battles of Healthcare in Djibouti

Djibouti battles occasional natural disasters and receives many refugees from neighboring countries. These two challenges increase the displacement of people. As a result, this exposes them to different dangerous diseases and also leads to uneven health care accessibility. As reported by Reliefweb, regular measles outbreaks were recorded in 2018 and 2019 in Djibouti City. Additionally, 30,304 malaria cases were reported in the first half of 2019. The country’s health sector budget takes 6.73% of the government’s expenditures. The health sector focused on improving health care accessibility in rural areas, distribution of vaccines, maternal services to mothers and children and universal health coverage in the country.

From Issues to Achievements

To go on, Djibouti faces high hazards like consistent extended periods of droughts and occasional floods. Towards the end of 2019, DownToEarth reported that Djibouti faced floods that displaced around 250,000 people in the capital city. As said by the Global Facility for Disaster Reduction and Recovery, approximately 33% of the Djiboutian population live in areas of high hazard risk. Additionally, Djibouti faces a long time of droughts. There is a shortage of enough water which leads to the droughts and over-exploitation of underground water resources. Because of these natural disasters, there are poor sanitation and pollution-related diseases, dehydration and malnutrition. In response to this problem, the government established a Disaster Risk Management program. It has helped in sensitizing the public, better planning for resource management and preparing for better responses towards disasters. Fortunately, these steps will improve healthcare in Djibouti for its people as well.

More Major Achievements

Furthermore, Djibouti is one of the countries that receive high numbers of refugees in Africa. These refugees are mainly from Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia and Yemen. In May 2019, the World Bank released an additional $6 million towards the Improving Health Sector Performance Project in Djibouti. This program has been operating since 2013, and they have helped 143,000 women and children access essential health care services. These services are able to control communicable diseases like HIV and Tuberculosis. Additionally, In 2017, Action Africa Help International, UNHCR and the Government of Djibouti started the project Protection and Assistance to Refugees in Djibouti. The project provided essential health care to about 26, 915 refugees and asylum seekers. These interventions paid off when UNHCR reported that 100% of the refugees had access to primary health care services at the end of 2019.

Overall, Djibouti faces many challenges that affect the health of the population. However, it is important to be aware of the steps being taken to improve the health of the population. By addressing the problems caused by natural disasters and population displacement, all of these efforts have improved healthcare in Djibouti.

 

Renova Uwingabire

Photo: Flickr

Sanitation in Djibouti
The Republic of Djibouti is a small country in the Horn of Africa that is home to nearly 1 million people, many of whom are living in poverty. Sanitation in Djibouti continues to be a concern today. However, its location near Ethiopia, the Red Sea and the Indian Ocean make it a site of interest for many foreign powers. As a result, the country receives significant aid as its leaders work to provide Djiboutians access to sanitary water sources and services, many for the first time. Here are 10 facts about life and sanitation in Djibouti.

10 Facts About Life and Sanitation in Djibouti

  1. Djibouti is among the least developed and most impoverished countries in the Horn of Africa. Of its nearly 1 million residents, an estimated 42% live below the poverty line. As of 2018, the average life expectancy for Djiboutians was 66.8 years.
  2. Djibouti’s dry climate, nomadic farming lifestyle and periods of civil war have led to poverty, disease and malnutrition. Malnutrition rates have been as high as 30% in some rural areas, while many others living in urban areas like the capital city of Djibouti must rely on foreign aid and imported foods to survive. According to the World Food Programme, while malnutrition rates continue to decline, as much as 7.5% of Djiboutians experienced malnourishment as of 2016.
  3. Djibouti does not have a source of surface water and often experiences extensive droughts, so citizens rely on underground water aquifers that scarce rains refill. However, many of these aquifers run dry during the dry season from April to September, forcing many rural residents to adopt nomadic lifestyles or seek refuge in urban areas.
  4. Sanitation in Djibouti continues to be a challenge. The country faces several health crises as a result of open defecation practices and a lack of sanitation facilities. As many as 17% of citizens go out into the open to defecate in urban regions, while 83% of those living in rural areas have no access to sanitary latrines and toilets. This has led to a sharp increase in water-borne and diarrheal diseases since 2000, predominantly in children and women.
  5. The demand for sanitation programs has increased dramatically as a result of poverty and food insecurity. Since over half of those living in rural areas are food-insecure, mass migrations to urban areas have begun, increasing the need for essentials such as sanitary water and waste management. An estimated three-fourths of Djibouti’s population now lives in urban areas. As of 2011, UNICEF estimates that 73% of people have access to proper facilities in densely urban populated areas, compared to only 21% in rural areas. That means nearly 39% of all Djiboutians do not have access to improved sanitation facilities.
  6. The mass migration to densely populated urban areas and lack of proper facilities pose a significant risk during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Africa Centres for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that Djibouti’s current rate of infection, about 98 cases for every 100,000 people, represents the highest prevalence and quickest multiplication rate on the continent. Djibouti’s president, Ismail Omar Guelleh, announced a national lockdown starting on March 23, 2020, but has conceded since the country has not contained the outbreak. Guelleh has pledged an emergency fund of 1 billion Djiboutian francs ($5.6 million) and announced that food distributions have reached thousands of impoverished families. However, the initiative continues to face an uphill battle as it tries to reach all those in need, especially amid allegations of favoritism. Scrutiny on sanitation in Djibouti is particularly pertinent during the COVID-19 pandemic as the country lacks sufficient handwashing stations and waste disposal systems.
  7. Djibouti’s geographical location in the Horn of Africa has been a minor saving grace, as it represents a site of significant interest for several foreign powers, including the United States. USAID’s Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) project hopes to address sanitation in Djibouti primarily by modernizing water services and access to potable water in rural areas. The WASH project is working to improve governance of water points, pay for water services to ensure affordable access for the most vulnerable and provide efficient maintenance services. To date, USAID’s project has rehabilitated five boreholes and five ring wells in rural areas, serving over 5,700 people. Over 2,000 of these Djiboutians are gaining access to sanitary water sources for the first time.
  8. The USAID’s WASH project in partnership with UNICEF also intends to end unsanitary practices and promote better hygiene in Djibouti through education. The project plans to help teach over 25,000 poor and vulnerable Djiboutians, particularly children, by providing classes on proper handwashing, water-gathering and waste disposal techniques.
  9. Foreign aid systems of support continue to help impoverished Djiboutians today. UNICEF has donated over $1 million to improve sanitation services and hygiene education programs. However, the Republic of Djibouti will need to search for more ways to provide public services to its vulnerable populations, especially as the Trump Administration continues to scrutinize such U.S. global health initiatives, proposing to cut as much as 28% of USAID’s funding in its 2020 fiscal year budget.
  10. As Djibouti works to wean itself off of foreign aid, President Guelleh has promised more funding for public services addressing the country’s sanitation needs, especially in wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. As of March 2020, the Djiboutian government has pledged to fund and erect more public handwashing stations, but such efforts to improve sanitation in Djibouti are still on-going.
The Djiboutian government continues to encounter challenges as it works to help its vulnerable citizens. Foreign aid efforts such as USAID and UNICEF are providing funding for projects aiming to clean up sparse water supplies and waste management programs, but it ultimately will be up to President Guelleh and his administration to ensure proper sanitation in Djibouti.
 

– Andrew Giang

Photo: Flickr

Tuberculosis in DjiboutiTuberculosis (TB) is an infection caused by Mycobacterium tuberculosis. In addition to airborne spread, TB can be transmitted through unpasteurized milk contaminated with Mycobacterium bovis. This infection attacks the respiratory system, but in extreme cases, it can impact the central nervous system, bones, joints, lymphatic system and urogenital area. It’s a disease that is endemic in Djibouti, a country in eastern Africa. 

Infection Rates and Spending Levels

From 2000 to 2018, there were two peak levels of tuberculosis in Djibouti — one in 2001, and the other in 2010. In these years, Djibouti hit 716 cases of TB per 100,000 people and 621 cases per 100,000 people, respectively. As of 2018, TB rates were the lowest they had been in since 2000, at only 260 cases per 100,000 people. That being said, TB has remained the number four cause of death in Djibouti since 2007.

Despite the fact that deaths have increased, health data analyzers seem optimistic that the incidence of TB will decline as more funding goes toward health in Djibouti. In 2016, only $66 was spent per person on health. By 2050, experts predict that spending will rise to $87 per person. This increase will largely come from expanded development assistance and a rise in government spending on health — predicted to jump from $35 per person in 2016 to $48 in 2050. With more money being put into the health of citizens, it will be easier to get and keep people healthy. If someone does contract TB, there will be more money allotted for their treatment. Increased health funding will also allow for more community outreach and education around the spread and treatment of TB. If someone contracts TB and cannot get to a medical facility, they will at least have tools to keep themselves healthy and ensure that their case doesn’t spread. 

Refugees and Tuberculosis in Djibouti

Refugees account for nearly 3% of Djibouti’s population. Most refugees come from neighboring countries raging with war. Djibouti’s refugee camps are small, cramped and perfect breeding grounds for TB. While things may seem bleak, there is hope. The government in Djibouti is working with multiple NGOs to bring awareness and treatment to TB in refugee camps. UNDP has partnered with UNHCR and the Global Fund to address tuberculosis in Djibouti. So far, they have provided treatment for 850,000 TB patients, as well as 19,139 patients with drug-resistant TB. The work of NGOs has allowed families to stay with the sick during treatment, without fear of contracting the infection.

The goal of this partnership is to end TB in Djibouti by 2030 — an ambitious goal, but one that is potentially attainable as support and funding help to educate, treat and provide support for the people who need it. While treatment is important, however, these NGOs have also shown that community outreach programs aimed at teaching people how to avoid TB are just as vital in stopping the spread of the disease.

The tuberculosis crisis in Djibouti has been a lasting one. Thanks to recent investments by the government, new technologies to combat TB and organizations helping contain the refugee TB crisis, there is hope for the future of this country and its citizens.

Maya Buebel
Photo: Flickr

HIV in Djibouti
According to the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), addressing poverty means first reaching those who feel the greatest impact; progress does not necessarily trickle down to the population that is most disadvantaged. The 2016 Human Development Report found that one-third of the world’s population lives in low human development circumstances. Furthermore, some sectors of society are more disadvantaged than others. Inequalities and social exclusion that people such as those living with HIV face present larger barriers to development and access to health programs. For this reason, the World Food Programme, alongside UNDP, UNAIDS and the national network of people living with HIV in Djibouti (RNDP+), have created an income-generation program that provides loans for people living with HIV. Such loans are empowering women with HIV in Djibouti to live dignified and successful lives.

Men and Women with HIV in Djibouti

As of 2017, 1.3 percent of the adult population in Djibouti was living with HIV, a decrease from 1.6 percent – or 9,900 people – in 2014. Social and cultural norms, destructive policies, improper medical services and restrictive laws impede HIV treatment and prevention measures. In Djibouti, women are most vulnerable to stigma and social exclusion and therefore often suffer the most.

The Income Generation Programme

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative supports and empowers women through longterm aid. By providing a regular, stable income, the World Food Programme is creating financial security for women with HIV in Djibouti. The money that women receive typically goes toward starting and running a retail business. These loans generally range from $141 to $148 per person and include a training program teaching effective business skills.

How it Works

Recipients of the loan become chosen from two networks in Djibouti that specifically support those living with HIV: ARREY and Oui à la Vie – Yes to Life. Oftentimes, those diagnosed with HIV are susceptible to deteriorating conditions, are unable to hold down a job and face discrimination, causing the citizens to be unwelcome in public sectors. Women with HIV in Djibouti that receive these loans are able to make a consistent income for themselves and overcome the stigma that some associate with HIV. Further, these women are able to take back control of the lives they previously led.

The Outcome

One such recipient of the loan stated that she was “no longer a desperate woman.” She now makes enough to support her family and other dependents. Additionally, once this loan gave her the capital to launch a sustainable business, she was able to repay the loan in only 10 months. During that time the recipient was also able to expand the retail business to include furniture and electronics.  

The World Food Programme’s income-generation initiative aids the Sustainable Development Goal of ending HIV by 2030, and furthermore, leaving no person behind. According to UNDP’s findings, development itself does not automatically ensure that the entire population is included. Programs such as this target the multidimensional factors involved in people receiving proper aid.

Empowerment is an essential part of development; without the ability to feel successful and fulfilled, women often lack the means to seek treatment and make educated decisions regarding health. The loan initiative empowers women living with HIV in Djibouti to combat the associated stigma and obtain financial investment necessary to develop a sustainable business. With a stable income, women are able to seek health services that might not have been previously accessible. 

Laurel Sonneby
Photo: Flickr

10 Facts about Life Expectancy in Djibouti
The life expectancy of a country deeply intertwines with various factors, such as economic status, living conditions and nutrition.  People living within these countries often find themselves short on food, stable living conditions and consistent employment which may lead to a higher mortality rate.  These 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti will show the myriad of factors playing into Djibouti’s low life expectancy, and how NGOs and Djibouti’s government are making a difference in the region.

10 Facts About Life Expectancy in Djibouti

  1. Djibouti’s life expectancy is 66.81 years as of 2019. Djibouti’s death rate is 7.5 deaths per 1,000 people while its birth rate is 23.3 births per 1,000. While Djibouti’s life expectancy is dramatically lower than the global average of 72 years, 66.81 years is a 0.4 percent improvement from 2018.
  2. Djibouti’s life expectancy ranks 191 out of 223 countries, putting it on the lower end of worldwide life expectancies. Diabetes may cause many deaths and general disabilities in Djibouti, which causes the most death and disability of any disease.  This goes hand in hand with malnutrition, which also causes the most death and disability in Djibouti combined.
  3. Djibouti receives 90 percent of its food as imports, which is because of the arid conditions in the region that makes successful agriculture difficult. This, in turn, causes food insecurity to be a major problem, as 62 percent of the rural population has inadequate access to nutritious food.  However, malnutrition rates have dropped from 18 percent in 2015 to 7.5 percent in 2016.
  4. Sixty-two percent of rural Djiboutians have insufficient access to healthy food.  In order to counteract this, the World Food Programme and the Government of Djibouti teamed up to create the Humanitarian Logistics Hub, a facility built to house large quantities of food and goods for the Horn of Africa region.  The Humanitarian Logistics Hub can store 25,000 metric tons of food, making access to nutritious food easier for the Horn of Africa region.
  5. The International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) has been a force for good in Djibouti. IFAD has spearheaded multiple projects devoted to the betterment of Djibouti. One of these projects is the Programme for the Mobilisation of Surface Water and Sustainable Land Management which began in 2007.  This project intended to develop the Djibouti Ministry of Agriculture and local communities’ abilities to manage natural resources in a more effective manner and give practiced guidelines that would help spread clean surface water to local communities as well as guidelines for sustainable land management. IFAD considered this project a success and ended in 2013.
  6. Djibouti’s GDP (which is $5,307 per capita) should increase by 7 percent in 2019 with much of the economic growth coming from transportation and logistics due to the Port of Djibouti’s importance in the region. None of the countries with a GDP per capita around $50,000 have a life expectancy below 74 years. Conversely, no country with a GDP per capita around $500 has a life expectancy above 64 years.
  7. Djibouti’s drinking water sources are among the most modernized and widespread of all the nations in the Horn of Africa with 97.4 percent of the urban population having access to improved water sources (i.e protected springs, rainwater collection, tap water, etc.) Only 64.7 percent of the rural population has access to these water sources, though, which is due to the droughts that have plagued the country since 2009. This has effectively eliminated surface water in some rural areas. There is hope, however, as the IFAD’s ongoing project, the Soil and Water Management Programme is working towards ensuring that rural households gain access to sustainable sources of water. It intends to add to the network of hydraulic structures that the previous program implemented.
  8. Only 51.8 percent of Djiboutians have access to electricity. Much of the urban population (67.4 percent) has access to electricity and a paltry two percent of rural areas have access to electricity. However, Djibouti does have options in the form of renewable energy, primary in the form of wind, geothermal and solar.  Djibouti’s rural areas having inadequate access to electricity is because of the uneven distribution of energy resources.  The country can rectify this with power grid integration, however.
  9. Most people living in Djibouti are between the ages of 0-14 (30.71 percent) and 25-54 (39.63 percent) with less than 5 percent making it to the 55-64 age range. As of 2017, Djibouti’s most frequent cause of death is HIV/AIDS followed by heart disease and lower respiratory infections.  As of 2016, Djibouti has a Healthcare Access and Quality Index (HAQ) of 35.0 which is a massive increase from the 24.3 HAQ in 2000.
  10. Only 47.4 percent of the population has access to improved sanitation facilities while 52.6 percent of the Djiboutian population have unimproved sanitation facilities. Waterborne illnesses like hepatitis A, hepatitis E and typhoid fever thrive in areas of low sanitation, as they often spread when fecal matter and waste come into contact with drinking water. To combat this, USAID has enacted the Water, Sanitation and Health (WASH) project that aims to educate the Djiboutian public on important hygiene practices, along with modernizing boreholes and ring-wells in more rural areas to prevent water contamination.

These 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti show that while Djibouti has many issues contributing towards its abnormally low life expectancy, none of these issues are insurmountable.  What Djibouti lacks in resources it more than makes up for with its favorable geographic location that makes it a hub of local and international maritime trade.

An in-depth look at these 10 facts about life expectancy in Djibouti makes it plain as day that Djibouti can and will overcome the factors hindering the population’s low life expectancy.  Djibouti’s GDP increases every day thanks to its bustling port that provides jobs and goods; the Humanitarian Logistics Hub is a step in the right direction for Djiboutian nutrition and its water sources are second to none. Djibouti has shown that with a little help from NGOs and government agencies like the IFAD and USAID, it can become a thriving maritime hub where no man, woman or child goes hungry, thirsty or destitute.

– Ryan Holman
Photo: Wikipedia Commons

Renewable Energy in Djibouti

Djibouti, located in East Africa and bordered by Eritrea, Ethiopia and Somalia, has a population of nearly one million people. In 2013, Djibouti announced Vision 2035, a comprehensive plan to use exclusively renewable energy and achieve universal access to reliable electricity. If successful, Djibouti would become the seventh country in the world and the first African country to achieve 100 percent renewable energy.

Djibouti’s Energy Infrastructure Today

Right now, Djibouti faces several roadblocks in its path toward renewable energy. For example, much of Djibouti’s energy comes from volatile imports. Around 65 percent of Djibouti’s electricity comes from Ethiopia. According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), this reliance on imported energy leads to price volatility that can hamstring economic development plans. Much of Djibouti’s remaining energy comes from its own geothermal, solar, wind and biomass sources. However, much of this electricity is unreliable. According to USAID, 100 megawatts of electricity that Djibouti consumes, only 57 megawatts are available to serve the population because of underdeveloped energy infrastructure. In addition, only 60 percent of Djiboutians have access to electricity. There is a large disparity in access between urban and rural areas, with far more city dwellers connected to the grid than those in rural areas. In total, 110,000 households in Djibouti without electricity.

Potential and Progress

Despite these hurdles, Djibouti has a remarkable potential to increase domestic renewable energy production. Djibouti has the natural capacity to produce 300 megawatts of renewable energy annually—triple what it produces today. The country has abundant solar radiation for the creation of solar farms and many opportunities to harvest geothermal energy, such as the rifts of its two largest lakes, Abbe and Assal.

Since the 2013 commencement of Vision 2035, much of this potential has been actualized. The creation of the Djibouti Geothermal Power Generation Project, a power plant in Lake Assal, was announced in 2013. In 2018, construction began after $50 million in funding was secured by the World Bank and other financiers. Moreover, a $390 million solar farm is under construction in southern Djibouti as a result of a public-private partnership between Djibouti’s Ministry of Energy and Natural Resources and Green Enesys, a German renewable energy firm. Djibouti is already beginning to reap the benefits of renewable energy investment projects. The World Bank reports a four percent increase in access to electricity from 2013 to 2017—the largest sustained increase in over two decades.

The Importance of Renewable Energy

There are many important benefits to Vision 2035 if it succeeds. Access to energy is essential to economic growth. The World Bank reports that reliable energy is critical for several aspects of development such as “health, education, food security, gender equality, livelihoods and poverty reduction.” Better electricity is vital for sustained progress in Djibouti.

Additionally, Vision 2035 offers a framework of sustainable development that maintains the integrity of Djibouti’s natural ecosystems. By harnessing energy from renewable sources, Djibouti can reduce poverty without depleting its forests or relying on imported coal or oil. By becoming the first African country to use 100 percent renewable energy, Djibouti has the opportunity to become a leading international voice in sustainable development.

– Abraham Rohrig
Photo: Flickr

Poverty in the Horn of Africa
The Horn of Africa is a peninsula that extends into the Arabian Sea and the Gulf of Aden. It includes seven countries: Djibouti, Eritrea, Ethiopia, Somalia, South Sudan, Sudan and Uganda. Here are 10 facts about poverty in the Horn of Africa, how poverty impacts the people of these countries and how their situations can improve.

10 Facts About Poverty in the Horn of Africa

  1. Food Insecurity in Djibouti: Food insecurity is a major problem for those living in rural areas of Djibouti. While those living in more urban areas of the country do not experience the same levels of poverty, 62 percent of those living in rural Djibouti have little access to food containing adequate nutrition. Djibouti’s climate may be a cause as it makes crop production difficult. As a result, it must receive 90 percent of its food supply as imports, making the country vulnerable to changes in international market prices.
  2. Drought and Malnutrition in Eritrea: Amnesty International reports that many in Eritrea struggle to meet their basic needs as drought and laws within the country make it difficult to access clean water and limit the availability of basic food supplies. Half of all children in Eritrea experience stunted growth due to malnutrition.
  3. Poverty in Ethiopia: Ethiopia is one of the most populated countries in Africa and one of the poorest countries in the world. Despite experiencing a massive surge of economic growth since 2000, 30 percent of Ethiopians are still living below the poverty line, and the United Nations has classified 36 million of the country’s 41 million children as multidimensionally poor.
  4. Conflict in Somalia: Years of conflict have destroyed much of Somalia’s economy, infrastructure and institutions. Forty-three percent of the population of Somalia live on less than $1 a day. Nearly five million Somalis depend on humanitarian aid every day.
  5. Conflict and Climate in Sudan: Like Somalia, Sudan has faced serious damage to its economy due to conflict. Sudan has also faced serious damage to its agricultural industry due to unpredictable climate and rainfall in recent years. One in three Sudanese children under the age of 5 is underweight due to malnutrition.
  6. South Sudan, Foreign Investors and Agriculture: Though South Sudan is rich in resources, particularly oil, foreign investors monopolize most of its supplies. The vast majority of workers in South Sudan engage themselves in agriculture and livestock rearing. South Sudan is incredibly vulnerable to changing patterns in rain, similar to its northern neighbors, and it frequently experiences floods and droughts that, in conjunction with conflict and depreciating currency, has left 80 percent of its population impoverished.
  7. Poverty in Uganda: Uganda has made great strides in reducing poverty over the last decade. However, it still requires more work. Poverty is still a major issue throughout the country, particularly in the northern and eastern regions, which have less access to infrastructure than the rest of the country. In northern Uganda, 29 percent of households do not have toilets and 96.3 percent of households are without electricity.
  8. The Link Between Poverty, War and Instability: The Horn of Africa is currently dealing with several wars and conflicts. There is civil unrest in Sudan and South Sudan, and terrorism plagues the entire region. In 2017, the Prime Minister of Ethiopia, Hailemariam Desalegn, suggested that poverty is the underlying cause of war and instability in the region and that the best way to foster peace in this high-conflict area is to focus on improving the economies of these countries.
  9. Digital Technologies: Digital technologies could play a major role in closing the economic gap between these countries and more financially stable regions of the globe. Digitalization of a country is relatively low-cost, and can significantly assist in alleviating poverty through a number of channels. Technology can allow those in rural communities to access education, health care and agricultural information that would dramatically increase productivity. Beyond that, technology allows women and other marginalized populations to enter the formal economy.  An International Monetary Fund study stresses the importance of boosting women’s participation in the economy to create economic growth. Taking simple steps in investing in things like mobile phones and the internet could lay groundwork not only for alleviating poverty in the region but also for ensuring equality and lasting peace. This strategy has worked extremely well in countries such as Bangladesh.
  10. The World Bank’s Initiative: The World Bank has developed an initiative that focuses on alleviating poverty in the Horn of Africa by focusing on building resilience in the region and integrating the region economically.

The Horn of Africa is one of the poorest regions in the world. These facts demonstrate that these nations desperately need the attention and assistance of the global community in order to create stability in the region, and a chance at a better life for the people living there.

Gillian Buckley
Photo: Flickr

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Djibouti
Djibouti’s location in the Horn of Africa makes it a prime port for trade. The diverse population has taken an increased interest in this country’s urban areas bordering the coast. The country’s GDP is rising, but 16 percent of the population was still living under $1.90 per day in 2017. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Djibouti reveal the status of the country as well as the effects of welcomed foreign interactions.

Top 10 Facts About Living Conditions in Djibouti

  1. Although one-third of the population’s main income is livestock, it contributes only 3 percent to Djibouti’s GDP. On average, the country only gets 130 millimeters of rain each year. Because of this, only a small portion of the land, about 1,000 square kilometers, can be used for agriculture. This leaves Djibouti with no choice but to rely on affordable international market prices to import 90 percent of its food commodities. The World Food Program (WFP) is supporting the government with a school feeding program and food security for the families affected by drought.
  2. Currently, the poverty rate in Djibouti is at 21 percent. However, in the last 15 years, the country’s GDP has been growing by more than 3 percent per year. There is work to be done to bring a living wage to the people.
  3. Djibouti provides a gateway to the Suez Canal. Acting as a stable bridge between African and Middle Eastern areas draws trade, foreign military bases and foreign assistance. Djibouti is the host to NATO and other foreign forces, proving it to be a neutral country even in the midst of surrounding conflict.
  4. In 2019, Djibouti may be responsible for an estimated 42,100 displaced people under the National Refugee Law. The United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) is helping to ease this burden through socio-economic integration. Their efforts aim to include refugees in the education and health systems and to assist with voluntary resettlement.
  5. Although many people moved to urban areas in search of economic opportunity, droughts over the last 30 years and conflict in the region forced many out into extension slums. The International Development Association’s (IDA) Slum Upgrading Project has gained support in the amount of $20 million. The development will mitigate the overpopulated areas by establishing a system of transportation for the public, their goods and emergency assistance.
  6. The enrollment rate of Djiboutian students in 2017 was less than 50 percent across the board. Fortunately, the completion rate of children in primary school has improved from 22 percent in 2000 to 55 percent in 2018 for females and from 31 percent in 2000 to 60 percent in 2018 for males. These percentages in enrollment and completion rates are projected to rise.
  7. The cost of electricity in Djibouti is double that of the African average. Currently, electricity is available to half the population, and the percentage of consumers is expected to double in the near future. As a result, USAID is launching two projects, the Power Africa Transaction and Reform Program (PATRP) and the East Africa Geothermal Partnership (EAGP), which will develop Djibouti’s natural resource potential into sustainable energy in order to power the country.
  8. Cybercafes offer online access to counter the high cost of the internet. More than 105,000 Djiboutians, who cannot afford internet, utilize these cybercafes, although access does not guarantee the availability of all sites and information, especially in regards to media. Authorities will block access to websites they find unfavorable to the government.
  9. Djiboutian male family members do not curb their women away from work opportunities, and there are no laws forbidding female entrepreneurship. However, the difficulty of accessing the market is in part due to social norms, family duties, education or skill barriers and transportation issues. The World Bank understands the vital role female empowerment plays in improving their society. For this reason, they have launched the 3.82 million dollar project, “E-commerce for Women-led SMEs.” Their contributions will provide Djiboutian women with the tools to access e-commerce platforms. The project’s connections to financial institutions, such as IFC’s Banking on Women network, lending specifically to women, will alleviate the struggle women have had trying to finance their small firms through disinterested creditors.
  10. Female Genital Mutilation (FGM) is practiced on more than 90 percent of women and girls in Djibouti. Some have endured this under qualified medical practitioners. But, medicalizing the act does not mean there are health benefits to removing the tissue. The tradition is practiced for different reasons, such as to represent a transition to womanhood or to discourage sexuality in women. Some communities associate it with religion, believing it fosters virtuous women, although there is no support for that belief in religious scriptures. FGM leads to severe pain, prolonged bleeding, higher risk of infection or HIV transmission and death. Women can also experience infertility or multiple complications in childbirth. UNICEF and the United Nations Populations Fund (UNFPA) have spearheaded a program to advocate for legislation banning FGM, provide victims with access to health care professionals and open the discussion to voice declarations against FGM in communities, like Djibouti, being affected.

Djibouti’s cosmopolitan port keeps it a central location for foreign affairs; however, an overpopulation of displaced people and drought have put a strain on food security. Equality is a work in progress. Though FGM still poses a threat to Djiboutian girls, there are organizations working to end the barbaric practice. Furthermore, women are on the rise towards entrepreneurship. These top 10 facts about living conditions in Djibouti show the continued external support that contributes to the country’s infrastructure in order to create a stronger country.

– Crystal Tabares
Photo: Flickr